Two weeks ago Lauren and I packed up our final belongings, turned in the keys to the apartment, and put Lubbock, Texas in the rear-view mirror. Two weeks ago we became homeless. We became digital nomads.
This long-term travel and remote work journey something we’d been planning for nearly a year and a half and its arrival doesn’t seem real. Not having a permanent home we can come back to is weird at the very least, but it’s also liberating. No more clutter on the kitchen table. No more closet full of unworn clothes. We have what we want and will use and nothing else. It’s great. And weird.
Now, we don’t have the perspective of those who have been traveling for years, but we haven’t been idle. Fourteen days, six cities, and two emergency rooms have already provided a smorgasbord of teachable moments.
I’d like to share some of these quickly learned lessons with you.
Reflections On Travel
Road trips are more fun when your car’s AC works. My poor Chevy Aveo is having the strangest problem: after an hour or two of driving at 60+ mph, the AC and blower begin to slowly lose efficiency. The car heats up as the air gets warmer and comes out with less and less force. It’s odd and very annoying, but stopping every couple hours for gas or a 5-minute power nap zaps the AC back to life.
There are pine tree forests in Texas. I honestly had no idea. All of the sudden we were in the middle of a huge pine tree forest outside of Austin. Those are my favorite trees! Turns out there’s also a bunch of them in Northeast Texas – who knew?
Moving locations quickly is exhausting. Switching cities every couple days has a special way of killing any routine or self-discipline you thought you had. To rebuild those, you really have to want it. You’re tired. You’re not surrounded by your regular comforts. You have to make it work anyway.
Half what you think you need – then half it again. Lauren and I both brought extra clothes to wear this Summer while we have the space for bigger suitcases. We’ve just been leaving those in the car. We brought extra because we could afford to, not because we needed to. It’s funny how a second carry-on size suitcase seems like excess.
Reflections On Work
Working while traveling is hard. So. Many. Distractions. Especially when staying with family and want to see the sights wherever you end up. Also, travel days rarely make for effective work days.
Freelance flexibility is a blessing and a curse. I love being able to choose my own hours. Having that flexibility has afforded me to do many things others cannot, including this whole full-time travel and work adventure. On the other hand, maintaining the high level of discipline required to thrive as a freelancer is a constant struggle, especially without a regular routine.
Routines + Organization = A Happy Freelancer. Despite moving every few days and working with 6+ clients, I’ve been able to keep my clients happy, haven’t lost any work, and kept that dough rolling in. It’s all thanks to the work systems I set up before we left on this journey, including streamlined bookkeeping and invoicing, detailed task logging, and a ton of phone reminders.
Reflections On Allergies
If you have a severe allergic reaction, just go to the emergency room first. My throat felt funny. Then it felt heavy. Then it felt constricted. We rushed my puffy-throated self to the urgent care clinic in Fredericksburg. Paid the copay, got some shots. And guess where they sent me? The ER. Probably would have saved time and some money to just go there in the first place.
Severe allergic reactions can come back a second time. That’s right. 24 hours after my visit to the ER in Fredericksburg, I felt that same constricted feeling. This time we went to the ER in San Antonio. They shot me up with more antihistamine and said that we should have been taking Benadryl every six hours like clockwork (gee, thanks, Fredericksburg). Turns out, secondary reactions can easily happen if you don’t stay on top of medicine for 3-4 days.
95% of allergens go unidentified. We’ll probably never know what I reacted to. Oh well. Can’t let the unknown stop us from living and exploring.
It’s been a wild journey already.
Lubbock -> Groesbeck -> Austin -> Spring Branch -> Houston -> Ranger
And here’s the next two weeks.
Ranger -> Sherman -> Ranger -> New York City -> Brussels -> Rome -> Naples -> Montreaux (Switzerland)
And then we will finally arrive at our first month-long location: Tallinn, Estonia. Four weeks of glorious routine and consistency. Wow – sounds so good.
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